Thursday, October 6, 2011

Celebrating the Firstdraft

Last Friday was a red-letter day in my home office. I finally finished the first draft of my novel, Beneath the Surface. What a great feeling and a surprise, because, as you know, I haven't been writing this novel in sequence. All of a sudden, when I was looking for the next piece of the puzzle, I realised there weren't any more chapters to write--I was finished. Just like that!

How long have I been writing this novel? Years! Don't ask how many times the plot has changed, I lost count when the setting switched from the US to Canada. Then the back story changed from the 1600s to the 1800s. Complete re-write both times.

I've come to love this story. Of course, it's inspired by an ancestor, Eliza Ann Huff, my great-great maternal grandmother, who is descended from William the Silent of Holland c. 1533. No, Eliza wasn't hanged like fictitious Johanna Huff and they settled in Baysville, Ontario, not Tweed, where I've set the novel. Okay, the only similarity between them is the surname, but they were both pioneer women with large families and farms to keep them busy. Sometimes when I'm writing the back story, I can feel Eliza guiding me, showing me how they survived without any modern conveniences.

Celebrating the completion of the first draft didn't last long when I realised how much more work is left to do. I have folders of notes and changes to incorporate into the manuscript and I'm slowly tackling that chore. I almost wish I'd added the changes when I thought of them, but I didn't so I'm stuck crossing off each note as I find its proper place.

Then the real work will begin. I'll print out a fresh copy of the manuscript, which is already over 500 pages. I'll check the pacing and make sure each chapter contains conflict. Check to make sure each character is consistent and believable. Check both past and present time lines. I'll read dialogue separately and of course check the spelling, grammar and punctuation. Have I missed anything?

That should keep me busy for the next month or two. I guess the celebration is over for now.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Summer Reading

Thank goodness summer has finally arrived. The flowers are blooming, birds are singing and life is good again.

I love to read. On any given day of the year, you'll catch me with my nose in a book, but there's something about summer reading that gives me the ultimate reading pleasure. Maybe it's because I can sit outside in a comfortable lounge chair with a frosty glass of iced tea and occasionally glance up from my book and see the garden or the lake.

This summer I'll buy books new and used, and borrow books from friends or libraries. There will be no vampires or werewolves between the covers and definitely no winter settings. I prefer lighter themes in the summer, and of course, I'll still read biographies and self-help books.

I just finished Susanna Kearsley's The Rose Garden. By far, it's her best novel since Marianna and sales are doing well in Canada. The Great Gatsby is one of my favourite books and I usually dig it out each summer. I love F. Scott Fitzgerld's old-fashioned settings and colourful characters.

I have a pile of books awaiting my attention, but no hurry, I have all summer. I'm looking forward to reading The Pillars of the Earth although it's quite different from Ken Follett's other novels, which reminds me that I've been meaning to re-read Eye of the Needle again.

Mauve Binchy doesn't write as prolifically as she used to, but any of her books would satisfy my summer reading needs, especially the ones set in Ireland or Greece.

Jean A. Auel has finally published her sixth installment of Earth's Children, The Land of Painted Caves. It takes her ages to research and write each thick tome. Twenty years ago I was reading Plains of Passage when I met Tom. On our tenth anniversary, Auel released her next novel, Shelters of Stones and here it is ten years later.

Some current novels on Publishers' Weekly's bestsellers' list are, Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks. The story takes place in 1665 Martha's Vineyard, about a young Native American who graduates from Harvard and mixes with the world of Puritan men and women. It's based on a true story.

Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews is about three women (all with problems, of course) who spend a month in North Carolina's Outer Banks. The setting alone is enough to make me buy the book.

The Kitchen House has been on the shelves at Chapters for months and I've been biding my time, waiting for it to go on sale. The plot takes place in 1790 and is about a young girl, separated from her family while travelling by ship from Ireland to America. She has no memory of her prior life and is put to work in a plantation kitchen, where she becomes close to the family.

Those are just a few of the books I have lined up to read during the next couple of months. So what's on your summer reading list?


Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Cosy Spot to Write

Writing isn't easy--the only people who think writing is easy haven't actually sat down with a blank piece of paper and a pen. I have friends who say they're going to write a novel--they have the perfect story to tell. I smile and encourage them, knowing it will never happen. At the very least, writing takes discipline, time and energy.

It's taken me years to figure out that there is a right time and a place to write and forcing myself to write during other times or in other places won't work.

I need a cosy spot to write, which happens to be my office. It's a small room on the second floor of our house, painted Wedgwood blue. Some of my favourite things are kept there, among them, a large print of Monet's water lilies, an antique French rug that I carried home from the Antique Market in Toronto twenty-five years ago on the subway, stuffed animals I've collected over the years and a marble urn containing my father's ashes. I like to think he's helping me now as he did when he was alive. Of course there are white book shelves and a comfortable leather chair that creaks.

The best time for me to write is in the afternoon at my desk under a window overlooking the backyard. I love the sound of birds singing in the trees, but will only get off my chair to look at blue jays and cardinals. I'll write for a few hours, make supper, walk the dog and settle down in the guest room beside the office. With the TV on, I'll plot out the next scene of my novel on paper with a pen or pencil. The next morning, first thing, I'll sit down at the desk and review the chapter I wrote the day before. Everything seems to fall into place early in the morning. I don't even require my reading glasses.

I get more work done when I stick with this format. I like to write a fairly decent first draft. I'd rather have 2-4 pages that require minimal revisions, than 8-10 pages slapped down in an undecipherable mess that will take me another whole day to repair. The next time you find yourself writing something that flows effortlessly, make a note of the time and place. It might just be the best time and place for you to write.

As for blogging, I prefer Sunday afternoons, while the dog and hubby nap in the living room. I'll tiptoe upstairs with a glass of wine and a plate of grapes and cheese and type my feelings and thoughts to people who understand the art of writing.



Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Book Recommendation

Continuing on in the vein of Aleksi's post, another book that sounds similar to Heather Seller's (2) books are Anne Lamott's 'Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life'.

She made me feel like she's suffered through all and more of what I'm going through and left me with the assurance, that above all else, we are not alone. It's crammed with biting honesty and oracle advice. Above all, it's uproariously funny, even the parts that ring so true that you wince.

Here's an excerpt from the book:

"Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said, 'Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'"


Software & Books: Scrivener & Sellers

Here's the software I mentioned last night at our Tim Horton's conference:
  • Scrivener, the first writing software I've come across that actually complements the way I work, rather than forcing me to fit into its paradigm. (It's native to the Mac, but apparently they have a windows beta available; you'll need to hunt around for the download.)

  • Aeon Timeline, the only timeline tool I've discovered that does what I need it to do. It's a beta that is only available for the Mac.

And here are the books I mentioned:

Page after Page and Chapter after Chapter by Heather Sellers.

Some nuggets:
  • To create a writing life, you will need to fall in love — deeply, seductively, passionately — with your writing life. (Page, 27)

  • Anxiety is part of the force that makes us create. (page, 80)

  • The secret to writing a book: Don't miss a day. (Page, 87)

  • Dare to Suck (Page, 109)

  • You have to allow the book to wrap itself around you. All the time. Everywhere you go. Your mind needs to be turning it over, chewing it, stirring it, working it. All the time, in the back of your mind. (Chapter, 55)

  • The best way to learn to write a book is to write one. (Chapter, 109)

  • The book is your teacher. It shows you, productively, a tiny bit at a time, what to focus on learning next. Writing a book is like taking a perfect class on how to write a book. (Chapter, 109)

  • You're stuck because you haven't been writing, not writing because you're stuck. (Chapter, 170)

Reading them, they're like the books I would have written myself about the creative writing process once I emerged into the other side. I feel like she trod ahead of me on the same path I'm on, which gives me some hope that I can actually complete my novel.

If you're looking for books on the writing process instead of the technical aspects of story and novel construction, I highly recommend these. They fill an important gap on our writing-books shelf.

And if you don't know the book Page Fright, I also recommend it as a veritable encyclopedia of the writing experience through the ages, from the birth of ink and paper to the outlandish rituals great writers devise for themselves to overcome their page fright.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Wordcount Dilemma

It seems as though I've been writing this novel forever. Still not finished, but at least I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Yesterday was so beautiful outside and we've waited so long for warm weather that I abandoned the computer and puttered in the garden all afternoon.

Back to the computer today and on with the novel. A quick word count told me that I've written 83,440 words. Yikes! Last time I checked, the word count was 65,000. I still have 15 chapters to write, albeit short chapters, but now I'm worried that I'll end up with 100,000 words.

I've read several articles by agents who claim that 85,000 words is the golden number, especially for first time authors. Some writers don't seem concerned about word count and a few genres do have larger word counts. Historical, horror and fantasy are a few. Fortunately thrillers can go over the 85,000 word count and my novel is a psychological thriller.

The point is, why spend years researching and writing a novel that agents and publishers will trash simply because it's too long? Here's where self-editing skills come in, but it's hard to edit your own work so it's a good idea to have another editor/writer read it through. Someone who isn't as emotionally tied to the work as the author.

My plan is to keep writing the novel, get my outline down in first draft and then I'll start editing out the weak parts, repetitions, cliches, etc, and aim for around 90 to 95 thousand words.

That's the plan. Just keep on writing, one word at at time.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

WCDR Breakfast Speaker, May 14th

The breakfast speaker for the WCDR breakfast meeting on May 14th has posted his speech on the website. For those who are interested, you can read it by copying the below address to your browser. I found it to be nourishing food for thought.

What’s Real?
by William Humber
Presentation to the Writers Community of Durham Region (WCDR)


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How NOT to be a Writer: A Cautionary Tale

File this under the category: 'Stranger than Fiction'.

A review from a small, on-line site, Books And Pals reviewed a romance called 'The Greek Seaman' by Jacqueline Howett, who published the book independently.

Copy and paste to your browser the address below:

Over 300 comments were posted before the site banned further posts. It's long but I recommend you read at least the comments up to March 28, 12:24pm (the climax) and then skim the rest, as I found many of them to be quite enlightening.

I think you might find this to be hilarious, sad AND appalling. Appalling for her behavior, but also the behavior of the vultures circling this event: the ones who are only commenting to gloat and laugh. This has gone viral, currently being reposted and discussed all over the Internet.

This is also sure to reinforce the public's miconceptions placed on self publishing.

The best thing we can take away from this, is to view it as an example of what not to do.


Monday, March 28, 2011


Feeling stumped? Try outlining.

Now, now. I know. Whenever I bring up outlines, people tend to scratch their heads. Others back away. There are outlines and then there are *gulp* outlines. You know, from school:

I. Big Idea
A. Smaller
1. Even Smaller
a. Smallest

*ugh* rest assured that I will not go there. School is over and done with and we are free to form our outlines however we wish, whatever works for you. When we writers say outline, we're really just talking about planning. And different writers plan in lesser or greater detail.

There are basically two categories of writers: mechanical and organic.

Mechanical writers plan things in advance. They have lists, descriptions, and character charts. They know before they begin writing the opening paragragh of their book, for example, that Chapter 8 will contain an important plot twist. Depending on how much they plan, they'll know where the whole story must go, step by step.

Organic writers, for the most part, go with the flow. When they write, they know beginning and the overall theme of the book. They know the ending. And that's usually it, except for the major plot points. Then have to figure out how to connect it all together.

Now then, doesn't it looks like organic writers have more freedom, more spontanity. This must be how to outline, right? Otherwise creativity is stiffled and there are no surprises, right?


There is nothing wrong with either method, its about what works best for you. Mechanical writers do get surprised. They just get their surprises earlier. I should know, I do mechanical outlines. For my planning, I find I function best when I don't need to worry about prose and just spew it all out of my head and onto the page, ungramatical and ugly. The surprises still come, I'm still being spontanious. And don't think I feel stiffled by the outline. If when doing the actual writing that I feel I now want to take a detour... or three, off I go. The outline is just that, a plan. Both methods, or a mixture of both, have their merits.

The true sin is writing without a plan: it's not wise to write without an outline the same way it's not wise to build a house without blueprints. You'll ramble along, lose sight of details, make mistakes, and you'll either run out of steam and abandon the project or, you'll complete it, but the structure will be shakey, and eventually tip over in the wind.

The plan is the thing.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Afternoon Chores

It's a cool and windy Sunday afternoon and I have a long list of chores awaiting my attention. The baby shower gift I bought on Thursday for my niece is wrapped, but will have to wait until next Sunday to be delivered. I thought the shower was today, until I reread the invitation and noticed that the 20th of March was the date to RSVP not the actual date of the shower. The hubby got a good laugh over my mistake.

My beef stew is in the oven and the hubby and dog are snoring (not sure which one) in front of the TV. I've sneaked upstairs with a glass of wine and some chocolates (leftover from Christmas that I found in the back of a cupboard) to attack my absolutely favourite chore.

I'm sorting through a monthly supply of magazines. How many do I buy, you ask? Well, I suppose it depends on my will-power de jour. I always buy Womans World, which comes out once a week. I think it's the catchy front page guaranteeing I'll lose ten to fifteen pounds with the latest diet craze. I should know by now that losing weight takes common sense, less food and moving more, but what the hell, if I can sit on my ass, drink wine, nibble chocolates and lose weight swallowing a herbal supplement I've never heard of, I'm game.

The magazine pile is high and some are keepers, like my UK fiction mags that I use as reference for my writing. Maybe once a year I'll sort through those and clip a few stories before tossing them in the recycle bin. I've been buying Bliss Victoria for years and storing them in boxes in the basement. Every now and then, I'll pull out the musty boxes and drool over the photographs of gorgeous houses, lush gardens and scrumptious recipes I'll never make. The Food & Drink magazine, compliments of LCBO, is really good this month. Check out page 17--Shiraz with Braised Brisket. I'll make that for sure.

Martha Stewart's Living magazine is full of tips on growing your own vegetables. I've been growing herbs and tomatoes for years, but now that Tom's father is gone, I'll have to plant green onions, cucumbers and green onions as well. Fresh is so much better than store bought, even when they're in season. The free magazine from the health food store had some tips for curing colds and flu's and a list of herbal remedies for women to take after menopause to suppress hot flashes, although the photograph of the youthful female doctor who wrote the article tells me the closest she's ever come to a hot flash is in a tanning bed.

Chatelaine has delicious comfort food recipes, which they claim take next to no time to prepare. First they have page after page of fattening pastas and fresh bread and then an article on burning calories with power yoga. Maybe if I skip the lasagna, I won't need to exercise. I'm about to toss this magazine until I find a page dedicated to fiction: Jane Austin's, Pride and Prejudice, complete with a photograph of Colin Firth. Too bad it's not the one where he's emerging from the lake, dripping wet.

Last but not least in the pile is Soap Opera Digest. OK, I haven't bought this mag in years (REALLY!) but someone on my favourite soap died and I wanted to read the article. I'm saving it for a friend. (REALLY!)

Well, I'm finally finished sorting through the magazines and now I have a pile of loose pages of recipes, beauty tips, home decor photos (and Colin Firth) to file into folders.

Hope your afternoon was more productive than mine.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Leiningen Versus the Ants

One of the best parts of belonging to a writing circle is sharing the books and stories you love with other members. At the last meeting, David referred to a famous short story in the piece he read. I'd never heard of it, but as usual, I wrote down the title and looked it up on-line. Leiningen Versus the Ants was written by Carl Stephenson and published in the 1938 December issue of Esquire.

I just finished reading it (all 8,881 words!) and thought it was truly wonderful. Thanks for recommending this story, David, and if the rest of you want to read it, just click on the underlined title and it should take you there.


I notice that my link didn't work, so you might have to go to the Wikipedia site about the story and scroll down to the bottom where there is a link that actually works!

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I was reviewing all of the posts we've contributed this year and noticed that I never logged in to a link that Chris recommended in his post: Let the Games Begin.

Games Writers Play has a long list of prompts to help writers with the problems we have getting started, keeping motivated and focused, etc. I've added the link here so you can click onto it easily.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

More Good Reads on Writing

Here's another excellent article that includes numerous links on other topics that you can go into and view as well:


Friday, March 11, 2011


No, I don't mean belly fat, I'm referring to the middle of a story or novel. How many times have you read a book and loved the first few chapters, only to grow bored with the plot? The first chapter informs us that the protagonist has a specific goal or problem and yet, halfway through the book, the writer uses inessential details and drags the plot to an early grave.

I find the middle of a story is the most difficult part to write. The beginning introduces the characters and their problems and the ending ties everything together, but middles can get saggy or worse, boring.

Every scene needs tension or conflict. It must raise a question or advance the protagonist towards a goal. If a scene doesn't advance the plot or deepen characterization, it's just filler.

Open each scene with a hook and end it with a dilemma. Stretch tension by slowing a scene down. Use setting to increase tension. Suppose your main character is fishing in a small boat that runs out of fuel. Add a thunderstorm and you've escalated the tension.

Don't forget to use emotional and physical tension such as anger, fear, jealousy, illness or injury.

Raise the stakes by putting the protagonist in the middle of a conflict where he/she must make a difficult decision.

Here are a few tricks to writing a more creative scene:

Leave out a crucial detail or introduce a red herring to keep the reader guessing. Every mystery writer uses these techniques.

Tell things out of order. This could include a flashback or simply moving time back and forth to show what each character is doing.

Let the reader know what is going to happen before the main character finds out. For example, someone expecting a huge inheritance buys an expensive item, but the next scene shows the lawyer reviewing a will that disinherits the protagonist.

End the scene in the middle of a dilemma, disaster or introduce an unexpected development.

Now for the fun part--pull out an old manuscript and review a couple of scenes, using some of the tips listed above.

Let's make a pact to keep saggy middles out of our work.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Writers In The Storm

Sunday afternoon and I should be writing, but I've been surfing websites and writer's blogs. Please note that I have added two new links. Writer's Digest and Publisher's Weekly contain valuable info for writers and now we have their websites in one handy place.

I came across a blog today that is filled with useful tips and links for writers. I didn't add it as a link, but here's their address:

How's the battle going, fellow writers? The longer I work on my current novel, the more I realise how far from a finished draft I am. Oh sure, I could dash off a really crappy 300 paged firstdraft and pat myself on the back, but where would that leave me? I'd still have to fill in gaps (and I mean major gaps) to achieve a 450-500 page manuscript. I must accept that I prefer to write a fairly decent firstdraft that actually resembles a novel. I have about 3/4 of the novel written and I'm writing it out of order. Whichever scene inspires me, is the one I'll be working on.

In case you're wondering, the picture I posted isn't my back deck (I wish!) but from an old calendar entitled verandas.

See you all soon,


Friday, February 25, 2011

A Writer's Life

First of all, yes we are writers. When one puts pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and chronicles thoughts from the recesses of our brain we are writers. It may not be your main career and it may never earn you any money, but you have the perfect right to call yourself a writer. I think about writing almost all of the time. The funny thing (not ha-ha funny) is that I actually don't like to write. Or maybe it's not that I don't like to write. I have this weird idea that the first draft I write should be perfect.

Okay, now that you've stopped laughing we can move on. I know where my scene is going and what I want my characters to say and do, but actually sitting down and writing takes a lot of concentration and willpower. I think my main problem is that I get stuck on words. Not just any word, but the right word for the sentence I'm working on. I used to sit there with my Super Thesaurus in hand, flipping through the pages until I found the perfect word. I'm not as rigid now. I'll leave gaps to fill in later or XXXXs to let myself know I've gotten stuck. There seems to be an excessive amount of XXXXs on my manuscript lately.

And of course, there's so much to do before I even begin to write. I have to check my emails and my favourite writers' blogs. I might have to refresh my memory by reading some of the novel or short story I'm working on. Then I have to plan the scene I'm working on. Only then can I begin the process of writing.

I was writing just a few minutes ago and the phone rang--you guessed it, another telemarketer and I'm on the Do-Not-Call list! Now, I'm angry and I've lost track of my thoughts. Time for a break.

Back from my break, but now there's another distraction. I can't write in a messy room. It drives me crazy. No wonder I couldn't write before my break. Fortunately, my desk faces the window and I can block out most of the mess, but just knowing it's there irritates me. The room has been tidied, the papers and books are organised and now I can get back to my writing. An hour later and I've typed about one-and-a-half pages into the computer with several XXXXs throughout. Is this normal? Does Stephen King write this way?

I long for the day when I can sit down in a messy room, ignoring the email messages and phone calls, and let my fingers fly across the keyboard. Until then I guess I'll just keep plugging away at my own snaillike pace.

Back to the drawing board,


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Reading Frenzy

This is the best time of year to curl up with a good book and a hot cup of tea. I'm always looking for new authors to add to my personal library. After the last meeting, Chris and I went to our usual hangout and discussed books we love. Of course, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House topped our list. This is one book that is a must read once a year. I recommended two of Susan Hill's novels, The Woman in Black, (one of my favourite novels) & The Mist in the Mirror. Both have elements of Shirley Jackson's horror and occult.

Chris mentioned that Susanna Kearlsey has a new novel coming out in March. I looked up The Rose Garden online and can't wait to buy it. The plot is about a woman who travels to England to an old house and encounters a haunting. This one sounds a bit different in that the main character can communicate with the ghosts. I admire Susanna's writing and recall the chat she gave a few years ago at a WCDR meeting. She described how she had stayed in a small cottage in Wales (I think) to get the feel for her setting. When the locals learned she was writing a novel, they all came calling to give her facts and tips about the area.

The book I'm reading now is Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger. I borrowed it from the library and the sticker on the spine says 'horror', but it really isn't. It's a psychological thriller, very similar to Hill House. The actual haunting in the novel progresses very slowly and it's more than halfway through the book that the first truly terrifying scene takes place. The scene is long and builds tension gradually until I was holding my breath waiting for what might and did happen. I think I will buy this one for my own book shelves.

My last read was Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, a first novel by Helen Simonson. My sister recommended this one and she and I have very different tastes in novels, but I bought it anyway and loved it. The theme is an unlikely romance between a staunch, retired British major, and a Pakistani widow set in a small village in the English countryside. There are many belly laughs as selfish secondary characters try to break up the lovers.

I usually have several books that I read at the same time. Never two novels, but I adore non-fiction and especially biographies. I received Appetite for Life, the biography of Julia Child for Christmas and her life was quite fascinating.

What will I read when I finish The Little Stranger? A mystery or horror most likely, but I hate finishing a novel I've enjoyed. It's like saying goodbye to dear friends.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Good Reads

I start each morning with a cup of coffee and my guilty pleasure, The National Post.
There are many reasons why I love this newspaper. The writing is first class, the
ideas presented are thought-provoking and the opinions present both sides of the coin.
But beyond all that is a healthy respect for writers, with many articles on the craft,
etc. generally featured in their Weekend Post section,along with excellent book reviews.

Here are two articles that are must-reads and here's how to access them:

Go to: and Click on Today's Archives.
In the Search Box, type in Saturday, February 5, 2011 (for the first article)
When the date appears, type Craig Davidson (the article's author)and the article
should appear: "It's Not About Writing".

For the second article:
Type Tuesday, February 15, 2011 in the Search Box
When the date appears, type Clark Whilton and the article appears: "So, I'm Like: "Whoa That is So Wow'"



Let the Games Begin

*waves* Hi everyone.

What do you do when your writing begins to feel like work?

From the corner of the room, Jack Torrance intones "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

Uh...ok. *inches away* Er, yes. You could spiral into madness, if you wanted to, but I think that would be counterproductive. It tends to kill your writing. *Jack twitches*

*a-hem* Moving on now. When your writing starts to feel like work, go play! Here's a neat resource for word games I found. Pick a game that tickles your fancy and away you go.

In my personal opinion, 500 -1000 words per day (most days, anyway) is what I found to be my realistic goal. But if there's one thing I learned about the craft, it is do what feels right to you. Should you find you can only get the words flowing by standing on your head, I won't judge. If it gets you results, than go with it. There is no such thing as the right way to write so long as you get those words out and on the page.

I admit some of the games sound kind of oddball, but maybe one of these will trigger something for you.